What if My Spouse Is Avoiding Being Served with Divorce Papers in Jefferson Parish?
Divorce is never easy, especially for those who aren’t ready to give up on a marriage or remain in denial. One common strategy for spouses who struggling letting go is to try to avoid getting served divorce papers. They are under the assumption that avoiding being served will prohibit you from going through with the divorce. Their behavior really only delays the inevitable and creates a nuisance for you when you file. Yet, do not worry too much. If your spouse continues to avoid service in Jefferson Parish, you can take other actions to continue with the divorce process.
Below we provide information about serving divorce papers in Jefferson Parish, some steps you can take to locate a spouse who is avoiding service, and how Louisiana courts proceed with divorce when one party avoids service or cannot be located.
Required Service of Divorce Papers in Jefferson Parish
Once you file for divorce with the Jefferson Parish Clerk of Courts, you must serve a copy of your Petition for Divorce to your spouse as soon as possible, so the clock starts ticking on the 180 mandatory separation period. In most situations, the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department will serve your divorce papers. In fact, you get one service included in the $500 filing fee. When the sheriff cannot locate your spouse because he or she has avoided service, your attorney will likely recommend service by a private person.
Once the sheriff determines that he cannot complete service to your spouse, the court will appoint an adult process server who lives in Louisiana who can serve the papers. Louisiana law assumes that any person who holds a license as a private investigator is qualified to make service, so private investigators typically serve divorce papers when the sheriff cannot. When you or a private investigator simply cannot find your spouse to serve divorce papers, you have to take more drastic measures with the court.
Appointing a Curator in Your Jefferson Parish Divorce Case
Once you exhaust your efforts to serve your spouse divorce papers, you can request that the court deem him or her absent. Next, the court will appoint an attorney, known as a curator, to represent your spouse in divorce proceedings. In Jefferson Parish, fees for a curator are $475. You need to provide the curator with any information about where your spouse might be located so the curator can once again try to serve papers. Typically, the curator will send a copy of your Petition for Divorce via certified mail to your spouse’s last known address. When absent spouses do not answer a mailed petition, curators often place ads in the local newspaper requesting residents of the area to make contact with any information.
If the curator locates your spouse at any time, he or she must serve divorce papers. If the curator does not successfully locate your spouse, he or she will testify in court. Declaring your spouse absent is a costly route, but when your spouse is avoiding service, it’s likely your only option. A curator will also represent your spouse in custody proceedings if you have minor children.
Exceptions to Filing a Louisiana No-Fault Divorce
Three situations exist in which the court will immediately grant you a divorce without you having to go through the process of declaring him or her absent. Instead, the court will grant you a fault-based divorce. They include:
You must prove that your spouse committed adultery. Louisiana law calls for the lowest burden of proof, the preponderance of the evidence. The requirements are lower than beyond a reasonable doubt, used in criminal court cases. Yet, you need to give the court evidence of adultery beyond your testimony. This includes evidence of sexual intercourse or repeated sexual contact between your spouse and another person. Your evidence must be specific and include times of contact, places where the contact occurred, and the identity of the person with whom your spouse had sexual relations. If you can prove adultery in court, the judge will immediately grant you a divorce.
Louisiana’s divorce laws have undergone some changes within the last several years. Spouses who suffer physical or sexual abuse at the hands of their partner have grounds for a fault-based divorce. If your spouse abuses your child, you also have grounds for divorce. Like adultery, you must show proof of abuse. Jefferson Parish court and others throughout the state will immediately grant you a divorce from your spouse if you ever had a protective order issued against him or her, willingly or as a result of a hearing.
Felony Conviction with Prison Time or Death Sentence
If your spouse committed a felony and was convicted, you have grounds for a fault-base divorce in Louisiana. In fact, your spouse might not be avoiding service but may be sitting in jail or prison. Felony convictions in Louisiana typically come with hard labor, which means the felon must do their time at a state correctional facility, not in a parish jail. When you file your Petition for Divorce based on the grounds that your spouse has been convicted of a felony and imprisoned, you need to contact the court where he or she was convicted and sentenced. Your attorney can obtain your spouse’s criminal record at the clerk of court. His or her record will serve as proof when you submit it to Jefferson Parish with your Petition for Divorce. The court will typically grant you an immediate divorce.
Contact Betsy A. Fischer, LLC Today to Finalize Your Divorce
Betsy A. Fischer, LLC has been advocating for her clients in all areas of family law, including divorce, for more than 25 years. If you are struggling with serving divorce papers to your spouse in Jefferson Parish, Orleans Parish, or the surrounding area, contact us today at (504)780-8232 to learn how we can help you finalize your divorce so you can move on with your life.